Author: Khaled Hosseini
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
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" Mariam was 5 years old the first time she heard the word harami." and so begins Khaled Hosseini's saga about the lives of two women and how they are at the discretion of the fickle finger of fate.
Mariam is an innocent girl who in a sudden twist of events arrives in Kabul from her birthplace with the prospect of a completely different life. Laila is a girl in the same street as Mariam and whom Mariam regards only as a beautiful child. The way their lives get entwined with each other such that it culminates into their fates being tied together, is portrayed beautifully by the author. Rasheed is Mariam's much older husband and, Tariq and Laila are star-crossed lovers. These four main characters are relatable as they have their own humane flaws.
The story is divided in three parts. The first part describes Mariam and her childhood. Her 'kolba' the childhood home where she was brought up, her mother , and all things she held dear. Then the focus shifts to Laila. Laila's childhood is a happy one with her parents and her best friend. She is as content as a child can be. The third part shows how Laila and Mariam enter into reluctant relationship forged by the tumultuous circumstances surrounding the many events in their lives.
The book is lived through the eyes if the women as they attempt to survive in the country post the Taliban rule. Their joys are scarce, their sorrows, plenty.
The author gives a detailed and accurate description about the environment and the attitude surrounding women in Afghanistan. Their way of life is often disrupted by the Soviet bombings and/or the Taliban rule which has a detrimental effect on the conditions of the life there. The author balances out the parallel storylines and it makes us realise how love is a luxury entitled only for a few lucky ones who actually find it. The book shows how love does stand the test of time, space and fate.
Empathy, being one of Hosseini's strong points, moves an involved reader to a gamut of emotions. “ A Thousand Splendid Suns” , albeit fiction, brings to light the real situation in Afghanistan and is an excellent read.